The footballer returned to the memorial six months later and spent the night with mixed feelings.
River Plate lost 1-0 to Atletico Menero at the Memorial Stadium for the first leg of the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals.
The match was marked by the return of Ignacio Fernández to the Monumental after six months. But, of course, one of the most anticipated reunions by the millionaire supporters did not end as expected since Nacho complied with the ex's law and scored the winning goal for the Brazilian team, which will play the rematch next Wednesday in Belo Horizonte.
Nacho Fernández's day began with a lot of nostalgia and displays of affection from both sides. The 31-year-old footballer was merged into an endless hug with Marcelo Gallardo just seconds before the game began. It was not for less since the coach catapulted him and allowed him to find his best version. In the seconds that the gesture of affection lasted, both exchanged words. Has El Muñeco asked Nacho to loosen up against his former club?
During the ESPN broadcast, several passages were seen in which Nacho Fernández received a show of affection from the River Plate team and its coaching staff. In the previous warm-up, the 31-year-old midfielder greeted Enzo Pérez, Bruno Zuculini, and Milton Casco. There were also gestures from the rest of his former teammates who were on the substitute bench.
Nacho Fernández's party went from lowest to highest and had an outcome to be forgotten. After a first half where River Plate pressed much more, his game went unnoticed. With the passing of the minutes, the Millionaire felt the wear and tear, and the game was balanced.
It also boosted the performance of former gymnastics and fencing midfielder La Plata.
As is often the case in every Atlético Mineiro game, Nacho was the center of communication between the midfield and the forwards and participated in almost all the visiting attacks. He always presented himself as an alternative, and his peers searched for him frequently. Thus, he generated a couple of approximations through his precise passes. This occurred when averaging the first stage.
In addition, the Galo adjusted his lack of depth, and thanks to Ignacio Fernández, the opening of the scoreboard arrived. At 13 minutes, Nacho himself began a promising attack with a good pass from the right to his compatriot Matías Zaracho. The former Racing Club sent a precise cross for the Hulk, who lowered the ball perfectly with his head for Nacho himself to finish off at full speed. He had warned about it in the previous one, and it is due to Atlético Mineiro. However, that did not stop him from mourning and apologizing after the victory.
Minutes passed, and River Plate entered a general panic. Marcelo Gallardo made some changes to seek a reaction. At the same time, Atlético Mineiro continued with a more leisurely game to not suffer shocks. The result served him well. In turn, Nacho Fernández set off the alarms and had to be assisted on the side of the playing field due to physical discomfort. It is worth noting that this has not been the case since the Round of 16 cross with Boca Juniors.
And when everything indicated that he would become the figure of the game, Nacho committed a very severe infraction that earned him the red card after tricky ironing on Fabrizio Angileri ten minutes from the end. Although the Venezuelan referee Jesus Valenzuela did not notice it at first sight, he already did not hesitate. He was expelled with the VAR consultation directly. With his infraction, Fernández was inches away from committing a penalty. Instead, he left with all discomfort for the duty half accomplished and the pain of knowing that he would lose the rematch duel.
"We both have the same chances of going to the semifinal: River has been showing a lot in the last year, and we, except with Boca, have a good level. They will be very tough games, they have a plus in the Copa Libertadores, and we will try to contrast that with our tools. They are not the River of 2019 because they have new players who have to adapt and show a good game at times.
It makes me feel like we can beat them because they are in trouble locally, as Nacho Fernandez analyzed in the previous one in a conversation with ESPN.
The reality is that Nacho Fernández became one of the essential footballers since his arrival at Atlético Mineiro. Coach Cuca considers him an undisputed starter, and the player himself responded with outstanding performances. He demonstrated the same in River Plate, where he scored 31 goals and won seven titles, including the historic Copa Libertadores of 2018 against Boca Juniors in Madrid.